An Ode of Ascents based on Psalm 120
"I have lifted up mine eyes to the mountains, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, Who hath made heaven and the earth. Give not thy foot unto moving, and may He not slumber that keepeth thee. Behold, He shall not slumber nor shall He sleep, He that keepeth Israel. The Lord shall keep thee; the Lord is thy shelter at thy right hand. The sun shall not burn thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall keep thee from all evil, the Lord shall guard thy soul. The Lord shall keep thy coming in and thy going out, from henceforth and for evermore."
1. Who is this beautiful and mysterious child?
Part one and three link listed at the bottom of this blog.
Who is this beautiful and mysterious child?
Angels adore and kings bow low.
Our heavenly God who created and sustains the whole universe humbled himself to become an infant. And this, for us, is one of the great mystical paradoxes- that as a man, Christ slept and was subject to all the other needs of a newborn child. At the same time, as God and Creator, Christ maintained the entire universe or cosmos.
theThe Christ Child might be depicted as reclining, sleeping or being cared for by His Mother. Christ is shown with a halo inscribed with a cross and the Greek inscription which translates "I AM" in English. This is the name God shared with Moses in the burning bush.
In full productions, an attending angel or angels are nearby, often holding instruments of Christ's passion, as a reference to the time when Christ would ultimately sleep in the tomb after his death on the Cross.
One might find this icon on the west side (or back) door of an Orthodox Church to remind members of the Psalm: "The Lord shall keep thy coming in and thy going out, from henceforth and for evermore", found in Genesis 49.
Earliest forms of this icon depict the infant Christ with the dimensions of an adult. This type, although "awkward looking" to Westerners, continues to be copied within the Orthodox tradition and one reason is because it is theologically and mystically loaded with meaning- in other words great for meditation and prayer. Research more on your own.
In versions, like the Panselinos Anapeson, Christ has appears as an infant child (although always showing wisdom) and this type, of course, emphasizes the human aspect. I have read that copies of this type proliferated during a time when Christ's very humanness was being attacked. Sacred art is often an response to a need.
The West, for its part, also responded to theological attacks by presenting the Christ Child as an innocent and sometimes helpless looking, but royal Child. Western versions became progressively realistic with new innovations offered.
South American Devotion and Beyond
South America was introduced to Christ Child images through the efforts of missionaries. The cultural differences are apparent nonetheless, the love and reverence for the Christ Child are genuine. Copies emanated from their specific traditions and the same universal need for a Savior.
Although there are many stories associated with this devotion I will only offer one here. Click on the PDF to read about the Holy Child Jesus 'de los Suertes' . Click to read:
The beginning of 2015, I watched with fascination as the current pope traversed the globe from one country to the next. I learned about the CEBU Infant Christ and regarded the arts and culture of Sri Lanka, a country that I admittedly knew very little about.
In 2016, I more thoughtfully perused the collections of ancient and historical, religious arts from countries. Even in museums, we are still able to contemplate the transitions toward Christianity, sometimes happening in leaps and bounds, that earlier peoples have made. Nothing gained here, we suspect and know, without a real cost in fortune, reputation and/or lives...Some selections are pictured below. No longer adorning shrines and homes, these bits and pieces can still witness: "we do believe".
And how are we doing today?
DIGNITY IN CHRIST
"Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God's own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition..." St. Leo, one of the early Church Fathers, was Pope in the middle of the 5th century and is especially renowned for his preaching on the mystery of the incarnation. This excerpt from one of his most famous Christmas sermons (Sermo 1 in Nativitate Domini, 1-3; PL 54, 190-193) is used in the Roman Office of Readings for Christmas Day, the Solemnity of the Nativity of Christ, on December 25.
Part One: posting on the Anapeson and pre-Christian prototypes.
P.S. I would love to write the above icon, another or at the bottom of this blog (mine) just you!
Part Three: HERE
Notes, Art, Photography CMJENTZ ©2013-2018
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Christine M. (CM) Jentz.
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